Local heroes Cassette Kids returned to the Oxford Art Factory on Friday night, performing to a sold out crowd who gave the four piece a true pop star reception. To thank us, they brought lasers.
But we had some supports to get through first! Kids of 88 opened up the night, and I have to say they aren’t my cup of tea. They’re making the sort of frustratingly predictable pop music that will no doubt score them quite a following with the kids of the 90s and 00s. Playing to a partly prerecorded backing track, for me it’s just too polished, too safe, while lacking any “wow” factor. And with lyrics like “sugar, pills and alcohol”, there wasn’t anything inspiring in that department either. To their credit, the lead singer has great stage presence, and they have just enough conviction to take them far. I’m sure they won’t need me as a fan!
Following Kids of 88 were Howl, an up-and-coming rock band out of Victoria. Made up of six friends from Ballarat High, this is a band who easily won the crowd over, and honestly blew me away. They were tight, they were energetic, they oozed creativity and what’s most important of all: they were fucking talented. Jumping into the crowd and around on stage, the six piece certainly overcrowded the small stage, but didn’t let that reduce the size of their energy. Their impressive set featured at most times: 3 guitarists, the drummer, lead vocalist and a keyboardist. But at times a guitarist would become a second drummer… and at the end of the set, there were three.
There’s nothing quite like ending a set with a drum jam – some of the best in the world do it constantly – Jane’s Addiction and The Music being two that spring to mind. And Howl have created a similar effect here tonight. I was more than impressed – I was having a great time. Their rock and roll is so polished, yet just dirty and “jammy” enough to make it something continually exciting. They also pulled out some wicked (and surprising) covers of Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood” and Pharoche Monche’s “Simon Says”. If this band isn’t going places, no one is. And considering their age, it’s quite clear that they have yet to display what they’re truly capable of. I can’t wait to find out.
But it was Cassette Kids that the sold out crowd was here to see. While it’s great to see the band back on the road for a local tour, hitting the capital cities to promote their debut album “Nothing on TV”, I don’t think they’ve stopped touring at all this year! But that hasn’t stopped them from providing us with continually energetic performances. Although tonight it was the surprise inclusion of lasers that really excited me – and as they emerged onto the stage, filled with smoke and the fuzzy “Nothing on” TV, hitting us with “Forwards Backwards”, something else had become quite clear: Cassette Kids know how to win over a crowd almost immediately better than ever.
This is a band who are at the top of their game, with a crowd at their feet from start to finish. Indeed, the crowd were highly energetic, as were the band, who pushed through some early technical problems to give the crowd exactly what they wanted: a great time. And now that they can play to crowds who actually know the material – new and old – that’s gotta be pretty cool for the four on stage, too. Needless to say, it wasn’t too hard to catch a wry grin on Kat’s face as she churned out track after track, once again proving she knows how to bring it.
But for this, I don’t think any of us needed reminding.